As mentioned earlier, James was the oldest son of Joseph and he lived much of his early life in Nazareth. There is much we can learn from this historical fact. Around 100 years before the birth of Christ, a small clan of Davidic descendants migrated back to Israel from the Babylonian exile. They formed two small villages on either side of the Jordan River: Kochaba, which means village of the star, and Nazara, which means village of the shoot. These descendants of David were very Messianic, believing that Israel’s deliverer would indeed come from their ranks. They refused to marry outside of the Davidic line and they kept very detailed genealogies. Those found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were doubtless provided by members of Christ’s extended family in Nazareth.
The village became synonymous with this religious sect. Given that archaeological discoveries have determined it was no larger in population than 120-150, it is safe to assume that many of the families were related, and thus a close-knit community.
The Hebrew word netzer means shoot. The significance of this word comes from Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 11:1. The prophecy of Isaiah was greatly esteemed in this village, the importance of which cannot be overlooked when studying Luke’s account of what took place in its synagogue. James undoubtedly was a zealous follower of this group. For more information and details on the historical context of both Jesus’ and James’ upbringing , please sign up for A Journey Through James at TheDivineLibrary.com.